Tips for Camping in Cold Weather

If you’re no fair weather camper, then the woes of winter will do little to dampen your spirit of adventure!

If you’re no fair weather camper, then the woes of winter will do little to dampen your spirit of adventure!

While some people shiver at the thought of it, camping in the winter can be a wonderful experience. The crisp nights sipping hot chocolate, bright afternoon walks and a real sense of conquering the elements all make camping in the cold weather a joy for lovers of the outdoors.

If you are thinking of sleeping out under the stars this winter, read our top tips for camping in cold weather to ensure you aren’t left with the chills…

Select a snuggly sleeping bag

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential on any camping trip. During winter, you will probably need a season 3 or season 4 sleeping bag to withstand possibly freezing temperatures. 

Mummy-style bags are best for keeping you warm as they fit closer to the body, though if you are camping with someone you are fond of, a double sleeping bag is a great option for sharing body heat. For extra insulation, a sleeping bag liner can really help, too. We also have sleeping bags for kids to keep your little ones toasty warm!

Click here to shop for sleeping bags.

Don’t lie on the ground

When you’re sleeping outside, most of the cold will be radiating upwards through the ground. So, to avoid the earth sapping your heat, raise yourself off the floor with a camp bed

You can also fend off stiff joints by topping your bed with a self-inflating sleeping mat. These offer the extra insulation that an air mattress lacks, helping keep you warm and comfortable. For further protection, tent carpets and rugs are also essential.

Let there be light!

Don’t forget, it will be much darker during the winter months, with the sun setting as early as 4 o’clock! 

With this in mind, ensure you arrive at your camping site with plenty of time to put your tent up during daylight. You also need to ensure you aren’t left in the dark by a lack of lighting. To keep safe, take lanterns and torches, including plenty of spare batteries. A head torch is perfect for keeping hands-free while lighting your way!

We have a camping light buying guide to help you find the best one for your trip.

Learn your layers

Layers are particularly effective at keeping you warm as they trap heat from your body. Start with one of our thermal base layers for men or women before putting on your middle layers, followed by an insulated jacket. A walking hat and pair of gloves are also must-haves during the day and are even better when they are waterproof and wind resistant. 

Sleeping in a warm hat or wearing gloves is another great tip for keeping warm while you sleep, for when you find yourself in exceptionally cold temperatures.

Waterproofing does wonders

Your tent, walking boots, coat – choose waterproof when you can! When camping in winter, getting damp is a surefire way to feel cold and miserable. Once moisture enters your clothing and equipment, it will be hard to dry out in cold air, so prevention is always better than a cure. Before you go, ensure all your waterproofing is up to scratch by washing and reproofing it as necessary.

Take the right tent

While bigger may be better in summer, you should choose the smallest tent that’s realistically possible for your needs without feeling overly cramped when venturing out on winter camping trips. 

Taking a 7-sleeper when it’s just the two of you will make it harder to heat up, as there will be much more cold air. An appropriately sized tent will warm up more easily with your body heat, so prepare to cosy up together!

You will also want to make sure it is waterproof to keep out winter downpours and sturdy enough to withstand any winds. Be sure to take gloves when putting it up, as nothing is worse than fumbling around with frosted fingers!

Put the kettle on! 

A hot drink and warm meal will go far in fending off chills. Take a camping stove and specially designed camping kettle to prepare drinks and meals quickly and easily. 

Another worthwhile tip is to ensure you’re stocked up on tinned soups or even take a casserole from your freezer to ensure you have a hearty meal ready to go. 

High-calorie foods and carbohydrates are vital for keeping energy up in the cold, so see our range of camping foods for easy-to-prepare nutritious meals.

Check out our blog post on the best camping stoves for preparing delicious campsite meals.

Turn up the heat

You can do all you can to keep yourself warm, but sometimes, you may require a little extra help. 

A portable heater is a good shout if you want to take the edge off the cold. If you have electricity at your camping site, you could use an electric heater to warm up your tent before you go to bed and get up in the morning.

If not, you can use a gas heater, but use it with caution; there is little ventilation in a tent, making carbon monoxide poisoning a real risk when used inside. Take a carbon monoxide alarm and never leave a gas heater running in your tent while you sleep.

For more information on the Outdoor Revolution Eco Compact Electric Heater shown in the image, click here.

Cosy up

Take a hot water bottle, your warmest pyjamas, blankets and thermals. Be sure to have plenty of spare socks in your bag, as nothing will get you shivering more than having cold and wet feet! 

You could even sleep with your next day’s clothes in your bag beside you, so they are warmed up for when you slip them on the next morning. Another good tip is to use hand warmers to preheat your shoes!

Choose the right spot

Are there shops, pubs or restaurants nearby if you need a break from the cold? If you are further off the beaten track, see if there is any natural shelter you can benefit from. However, make sure that you are clear of any loose branches that could fall on your tent if it gets windy.

Consider your dog

Taking your beloved furry friend with you? 

You may be thinking that, because of their furry coat, they’ll benefit from some sort of immunity to plummeting temperatures. This, however, isn’t always the case. For example, if your dog is an avid puddle splasher, chances are they’ll start to feel the chill once they’ve finished their zoomies. 

Think of a warm and cosy travel dog bed and a decent waterproof coat. For more information on what to bring when camping with a four-legged friend, click here.

Learn from other camping enthusiasts 

There’s no shortage of experienced outdoor bloggers online and on social media platforms. We’d recommend taking some time to see what others do and their personal tips for outdoor holidays during the winter. 

Many will share their unique experiences and advice, which may give you something to take with you ahead of your next camping trip. You never know! 

We’ve recently published an article which focuses on a few bloggers that we’d highly recommend giving a follow. To check them out, click here.

Invest in a bigger rucksack

As you’ll likely be bringing extra blankets and clothing with you, you’ll need the space to accommodate this additional luggage. After all, you won’t want to compromise on not taking those essentials with you all because they won’t fit in your current camping rucksack. 

A decent rucksack will distribute the weight off your shoulders and, ideally, focus more on the legs – where your strongest muscles are. So, even if you do end up having a piece of heavier luggage (which you will), you’ll have the gear you need to carry it comfortably and safely, for however long you need. 

We stock a ton of premium quality camping rucksacks at reasonable prices here at Winfields Outdoors. If you’re interested in checking out what we have to offer, click here.

Keep an eye on your electronics 

Have you ever found that your electronics can unexpectedly cease functioning in scorching temperatures? Well, the same goes for colder weather. 

For example, if you own an iPhone or any smartphone, it’s common for the device to stop functioning properly if it’s exposed to anything below  0°C. So, this means that you can expect your phone to run out of battery much quicker than usual, or to turn off altogether until it’s left somewhere with a more stable temperature for a while. 

If you’re planning on going to a pretty rural area for your camping trip that’s particularly isolated, you’ll want to avoid losing the one device you have to contact the outside world. It’s always better to be safe than sorry! 

So, to avoid this from happening, don’t leave your phone out in the open air. Simply store it in a snug compartment of your rucksack, or keep it stored within a pocket. Ideally, a fleece-lined one! 

Be prepared

It’s good advice to prepare for colder conditions than you expect. Always check weather forecasts before you set off to make sure you have everything you need.

And, if you’re going somewhere that will be genuinely freezing (e.g subzero temperatures), we’d highly recommend looking into what to look out for in case of an emergency. For example, learn how to spot the first signs of frostbite. 

It’s also important to make sure you know where you are at all times, as getting lost when it’s cold, wet and dark can be dangerous. Remember, if the elements become too difficult, it may be best to turn back and try another day! 

Get prepared for cold weather camping with Winfields Outdoors

We hope you’ve found our advice on camping in cold weather conditions useful. 

From thermal clothing and portable heaters to sleeping bags and tents, we have everything you need to ensure your next adventure is a comfortable (and safe!) one, whatever the weather. To check out our full selection of camping gear, explore the rest of our website today. 


1 Comment

  1. Matt Adams
    Great post, I don't think there's anything worse than waking up in the morning and feeling the cold when out camping :-). Even if there is a nice warm kettle waiting to be brewed.
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